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Netflix leads the pack in dubbing films fresh off the theatres

While Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi released only in Hindi in cinemas, it is available in English as well as the four southern languages on Netflix. (Photo: Twitter @taran_adarsh)Premium
While Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi released only in Hindi in cinemas, it is available in English as well as the four southern languages on Netflix. (Photo: Twitter @taran_adarsh)

  • Media and entertainment industry experts said the focus on dubbing films on platforms once they are off cinemas screens comes from the success of web originals and direct-to-digital movies across geographies, especially during the pandemic

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Netflix Inc. has taken the lead among video streaming platforms in dubbing films that have been released in theatres and thus reaching out to a wider audience.

Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi released in Hindi in theatres but is available in English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam on Netflix.

Netflix also plans to make RRR, directed by S.S. Rajamouli, available in Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese. This comes in the wake of the success of Korean film Parasite, which is streaming in Hindi on Amazon Prime Video.

SonyLIV has, on its part, dubbed Marathi film Chumbak in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Telugu on the platform.

Dubbing is part of the strategy of platforms to penetrate deeper in India and follows the model adopted by Hollywood studios, which had started localizing American films for Indian audiences, according to media experts.

“Netflix has always believed that great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere. Dubbing plays a big role in making that possible. Dubbing is a work of art and our goal with dubbing is to tell stories in a way that stays true to the creative intent and to take those stories to audiences around the world without losing that intent," said a spokesperson for the platform that dubs and subtitles content in up to 37 languages.

“As with all things at Netflix, we are constantly trying to get better with the hope that more and more of our series and films reach new audiences in India and around the globe," the person said.

A film being dubbed in multiple languages for its digital release after being showcased in cinemas is a recent trend, but there have been direct-to-digital releases such as Jai Bhim, Soorarai Pottru, and Jagame Thandhiram, which have been dubbed in multiple languages, including Hindi, said Gautam Jain, partner at media consulting firm Ormax.

“Most big-ticket films in southern languages are being dubbed in other languages, especially Hindi, to widen the reach of these films among a platform’s subscribers. Not all viewers are comfortable watching films with subtitles so dubbing in native languages helps a platform take the content to a wider audience, especially for films that have received audience likeability," Jain said.

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